The acting head of the US banking regulator is reportedly stepping down this week.
Brian Brooks, who currently heads the US Office of the Currency Auditor (OCC), will be leaving Politico’s federal agency Victoria Guida in the next few days reported Tuesday.
In an email, OCC Assistant Public Affairs Auditor Bryan Hubbard “refused to confirm” such rumors.
Brooks, the former General Counsel at Coinbase, was a major influence on the OCC’s approach to crypto during his brief tenure. During his tenure, the OCC published several letters of interpretation or issued statements announcing that banks could provide services to issuers of stablecoins, work with crypto custodians, make payments with stablecoins, and operate nodes on blockchain networks.
Possibly its most far-reaching impact came from pushing fintech startups – like crypto companies – to secure national bank charters so they could operate across the country without having to apply for any state’s money transmitter license.
However, the crypto-friendly regulator drew backlash from members of Congress, six of whom wrote an open letter after the election asking Brooks to focus on economic relief during the COVID-19 pandemic rather than crypto regulations.
Brooks was an advocate of the digital dollar and the broader crypto space, comparing decentralized finance (DeFi) to self-driving cars in an opinion in the Financial Times Tuesday morning.
These “self-propelled banks,” as Brooks put it, could algorithmically generate money market rates, replace human committees, and enable brokerless deals. They could also increase liquidity risk or cause asset volatility.
He advocated a national regulatory approach rather than a state-to-state patchwork approach, although he noted that Congress may need to update the legislation in order for the OCC to fully oversee the growth of this sector.